Roschon Johnson has always been a special athlete. At Port Neches Groves, Johnson shattered the record books, finishing his career with 7,710 passing yards and 4,900 yards rushing. Thankfully for the Longhorns, they offered Johnson early and signed him in December of 2018. But when Johnson arrived on the Forty Acres, it became apparent that he was a very special person in addition to being an exemplary athlete.
When Johnson first arrived in Austin, it was not an easy transition. Coming from an offense that was particularly run-heavy, Johnson had to adapt and take in the speed of Division I college football. When Johnson was placed third on the Texas depth chart at quarterback, it would have been easy for him to hang his head — but that’s not who he is. Instead, he worked harder. Johnson buried himself in the offensive playbook and took extra time to practice his throwing mechanics. While this was happening, however, another position group was taking on water.
The Texas running back room was becoming dangerously thin at the position. Starting running back Keaontay Ingram was not 100% healthy and freshman sensation Jordan Whittington re-aggravated a sports hernia that would keep him out of action for a significant time. On top of that, Daniel Young and Kirk Johnson were both out of commission with injuries of their own. Having this many injuries to a position group was unprecedented for Tom Herman. “This is mind boggling,” Herman stated. “I’ve never heard of it happening, let alone had it happen to me.” With the depth at running back so thin, Herman made the decision to temporarily move Roschon Johnson to the position.
Instead of viewing the change as a demotion, Johnson took to it in stride and worked harder than ever before. What came of that hard work was being named the 2nd string running back ahead of the Longhorns’ season opener against Louisiana Tech. In fact, Tom Herman mentioned that Johnson was taking to the position like a fish to water. “He’s a really competitive guy, so when he makes a mistake he’s hard on himself,” Herman said. “It’s like, Ro, you’ve been playing the position for ten days, we kinda understand you’re not going to be perfect.”
During the 2019 season, however, Johnson has been just about as close to perfect as you can get. It might not always show up in the box score, but Johnson has done an exemplary job in his role this season. He’s accounted for 2 touchdowns out of the backfield and is averaging over 4 yards per carry. Johnson is also quite the blocker in pass protection. With Texas now 4 games into the season and Johnson playing in all of them, Tom Herman had to talk to Johnson about his redshirt status. When Herman told the freshman it was time to make a decision, he asked, “Am I still going to be able to help the team?” When Herman responded yes, Johnson said “then we’ll worry about all that stuff after the season.”
I asked Herman about his redshirt conversation with Roschon:
“I said, ‘Hey, kid. This is your decision. This is your career, but we’re at the point where we’ve gotta make a decision.’ He said ‘Am I still going to be able to help the team?”
There’s your answer. No redshirt.
— alex briseño (@alex__briseno) September 25, 2019
Roschon Johnson and his unselfish attitude is the perfect example of the culture that Tom Herman has built at Texas. In year number 3 of Herman’s tenure, it is more apparent now than ever before that the culture Herman has emphasized is fully embedded in the Texas football program. These young men are playing for each other, and it shows. The perfect leader for that culture is Roschon Johnson, the 18-year-old freshman that will do anything to help his team win.
So, what does the future hold for Johnson? The answer is unclear. But one thing is for certain — Johnson is going to be a star at Texas. With the inevitable return of 3 running backs and the eventual arrival of five-star tailback Bijan Robinson, it is not hard to picture Johnson moving back to quarterback after the 2019 season. Whatever the position, Johnson will make an impact. These are the types of players that will bring Texas back to national prominence.
Now that the culture is fully embedded at Texas, there’s only one things left to do. Al Davis said it best — “Just win, baby.”
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